What can MLA Commons do for my forum?
We encourage the executive committees of MLA forums to engage with their forum’s members on the Commons. Each forum has its own group, with the following features:
- A discussion area, which functions like a LISTSERV but with additional archival capacities. Members can choose to receive messages as they are posted or as a daily or weekly e-mail digest.
- An area for collaboratively authoring documents, such as calls for papers.
- The opportunity to share items deposited with CORE, the MLA repository, directly with their most likely readers: members of a given forum.
- A private file-storage area for items that members wish to restrict to the forum, such as syllabi and works in progress.
- The option to create a publicly accessible group Web site that showcases the forum’s area of focus as well as its convention sessions and demonstrates the field’s public appeal. Members who have created these sites have benefited from increased interest in their work and a greater sense of connectedness to their colleagues.
Most MLA forums comprise 100 to 2,000 members, and these discussion spaces have the potential to be rich sources of intellectual and pedagogical exchange. We ask you, as executive committee members, to lead the way! Should you have any questions about encouraging use of this community space, please contact Nicky Agate, managing editor of the Commons.
Whether it is best for you to use a group or a site to share information on MLA Commons depends on your communication goals. If you would like to communicate with colleagues who are interested in a certain field or professional issue, you may want to start or join a group. Groups facilitate interaction between group members, since members can participate in discussions, collaborate on docs, and share files. Participation in groups is limited to MLA members. You can read more about groups here.
While participating in a group is a great way to connect with members on topics of interest, sites are by default open to the public and allow you to engage with a community beyond the MLA membership. Sites can be a helpful platform for crafting a professional presence online, circulating information, reaching a broader audience for your scholarship, and posting longer reflections to both members and nonmembers. Sites are covered in more detail here.
When you join a group, you can post content on the Commons in a variety of ways: by contributing to the forum, creating a new doc, or uploading a file. If you want to upload a file, go to Files in the left menu of your group. Under Files List, you will see materials that have been shared by other colleagues. Once you click Upload a New Document, you can upload your file, give your document a display name, and offer a description. Click Save when you’re finished.
Please note that file size is limited to 2 MB, so you may want to use a compression tool (such as Small PDF) if your file exceeds the limit.
When logged in, you can post brief status updates or announcements from the “My Commons” page. Type your update in the text box next to your avatar, then click Post Update when finished. The post will be publicly visible in the activity stream. Your most recent update also appears in your portfolio.
Once posted, comments cannot be changed. Comments provide a useful record of ongoing conversation on a blog post, forum topic, or other element of MLA Commons. While we understand that you might wish to revisit a comment and fix a typo or make other revisions, the platform aims to encourage transparency and to emphasize that online discussions and publications are always evolving. Instead of revising comments, we suggest you add a new comment noting the change you wish to make.
If you copy text written in Microsoft Word and paste it into a post or comment on MLA Commons, you may see unwanted characters. This has to do with formatting in the Word document.
There are a few things you can do to ensure that only your text appears in your post:
- If you are posting to a space that gives you the choice between composing in Visual or Text modes, select Text. After pasting in the content you would like to add, you can switch back to Visual mode to modify the formatting.
- If you do not see the Visual and Text tabs, you will need to convert the document to plain text before pasting it into the Commons. To do this, first save your original document. Then click File > Save As. Choose a new name for your file to differentiate it from the original. This step is very important to prevent losing your original, formatted work. Once you have selected a new file name, change the selected file type from Word Document to Plain Text (.txt) using the Format field. Open the new text file, and copy and paste your work from there.
There are two ways to reply to e-mail notifications. You can click on the link supplied in the notification, log in to the Commons, and reply; alternatively, you can click Reply By E-mail from your in-box. You can use Reply by E-mail to reply to discussion threads on group forums, to personal messages and @mentions, and to group announcements.
When you join a group, you automatically receive e-mail notifications for all group activity. If you’d like to change your notification settings for one of your groups, please go to the home page of that group and look for E-mail Options in the left navigation panel. On the next page, select your preferred option: No E-mail, Weekly Summary E-mail, Daily Digest E-mail, New Topics E-mail, All E-mail. Then, select Save Settings.
Group roles identify what managerial functions group members can perform within the group. In addition to regular members, there are group administrators and group moderators. Group administrators can change group settings (e.g., turn the group blog on or off, turn group forums on or off, change group status from public to private); post announcements; change group avatar; manage group members (e.g., ban members, promote or demote members); and delete the group. Group moderators can edit the Group Details, including the name of the group and group description; edit, close, and delete forum topics and posts; edit or delete group documents; and post announcements.
These are covered in more detail here.
When you create a group, you will be asked to set member roles. These determine the status of your group members and their ability to post and comment on the group blog.
Administrators have access to all the administration features; editors can publish posts, manage posts, and manage others’ posts; authors can publish and manage their own posts; contributors can write and manage, but not publish, their posts; subscribers can read comments, make comments, and receive newsletters.
You must have at least one administrator, but the remaining roles are not required, and there is no limit on the number of people who can occupy each role.
These are covered in more detail here.